A WANDER AROUND FARRINGDON, CLERKENWELL & THE BARBICAN

Its great heading into London for mooch around with like-minded friends. This is part 1 of a long meander, but where better to start than this defunct art supplies shop, still displaying fading adverts for Letraset, Mecanorma and other relics of a bygone age… aah!

I love the juxtaposition of the designer Helvetica sign alongside the original ‘Girls & Infants’ stonework – I’m sure this has been positioned here deliberately!

Around the corner is the old Clerkenwell  Workshops building, now very much a mixed used space, but still proudly displaying its origins

And the subtly cropped Helvetica of one of the areas top design studios…

The best three kings… ever!

The elegance of this whitewashed arch, complete with decorative quoin and understated lettercarving is in stark contrast to the suggestion of the wittily altered street sign!

Above, a very large and bizarre looking number – reminds me of poor quality graffiti!

Whilst below is a more traditional sign with a curiously upside down final letter!

St. John Street has a number of fine architectural details, many of which all relate to the original of the St.John’s Ambulance organisation.

As you wander around, there are legacies of previous uses that have been retained more subtly, and others that are probably some of the deepest carvings around.

And so we get to the ‘love it or loath it’ monolith of the Barbican. I have always had a sneaky admiration for brutalist urban town planning – although much of them never lasted beyond 20 years before they were considered worse than the car parks of the same era!

Somehow, this place has worked. Yes, it’s not pretty, and yes, lots of Londoners and foreigners hate it too, but there’s no denying it works. These places are highly sought after, and for the typographer they retain much of their original Helvetica signage:

Although much of what has been retained has been abused – is that a Gill Sans ‘a’? Wall Side or Wallside? And is that ‘s’ upside down too?

At this point it was raining hard, and coffee had become a necessity, so I’ll leave you with a reflection as well made our way towards St.Pauls…

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